Aviation safety investigations & reports

Flight below minimum altitude involving an Avro 146, VH-NJW, near Granny Smith Airport, Western Australia on 23 June 2015

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 23 June 2015, at about 0420 Western Standard Time (WST), the captain and first officer of an Avro 146 aircraft, registered VH-NJW, operated by National Jet Express, signed on to conduct a scheduled return flight from Perth to Granny Smith Airport, Western Australia.

When the aircraft arrived overhead Granny Smith, the conditions were overcast. The flight crew elected to divert to Laverton Airport, about 9 NM north of Granny Smith. The aircraft descended to the minimum sector altitude of 3,100 ft above mean sea level (AMSL) and the flight crew conducted the area navigation (RNAV) approach to runway 25 at Laverton. The crew configured the aircraft for the approach, selecting gear down and flap 24. When about 2.5 NM from the runway threshold and at about 2,150 ft AMSL, the aircraft became clear of cloud but the captain could not see the runway ahead at Laverton.

However, the weather to the south towards Granny Smith Airport was clear, so the captain elected to divert to Granny Smith and turned the aircraft towards it, with the aircraft still configured for the approach. The flight crew were able to maintain visual contact with the ground and planned to establish the aircraft on a straight in approach for runway 16. 

The electronic ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) called ‘500’, indicating the aircraft was 500 ft AGL. Shortly afterwards, the crew received an EGPWS ‘DON’T SINK’ warning. The captain immediately applied pitch up and increased the thrust, in accordance with the standard response. The aircraft climbed towards cloud and the captain levelled the aircraft off to remain clear of cloud. The crew then received a second ‘DON’T SINK’ warning. The captain immediately initiated a go-around, climbing to 4,000 ft AMSL.

The aircraft diverted to Kalgoorlie.

Prior to flight, it is important for pilots to assess their fitness to fly. Inadequate sleep prior to a flight may affect a pilot’s decision-making ability.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 43

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General details
Date: 23 June 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0700 WST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Granny Smith Airport    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Flight below minimum altitude  
Release date: 07 October 2015   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer British Aerospace PLC  
Aircraft model E2329  
Aircraft registration VH-NJW  
Serial number E2329  
Operator National Jet Express  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Perth, WA  
Destination Granny Smith, WA  
Last update 14 November 2018